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Mountain group appeals to public

The new lodge as envisioned in this artist's rendition, will anchor the new park, which will attract visitors year-round.

A behind-the-scenes fundraising effort to re-open Detroit Mountain as a four season recreational park has been very successful, and now a public campaign is being launched to carry the baton on the final crucial laps and finish the race.

“I’m certainly more excited about this than anything we’ve done since the beach was done in the 1960s,” said Zorbaz owner and mountain supporter Tom Hanson.

In the initial phase of the fundraising project, the DMRA, Inc., board of directors asked local and regional businesses and individuals for support.

The silent campaign yielded pledges of $4.8 million towards the group’s $5.75 million fundraising goal.

With the project funding at 83 percent of its goal, “our goal is to raise about another $1 million to put it over the top,” Hanson said.

“Our vision is to build a first class destination and attraction,” said Mark Fritz, DMRA board of directors’ vice president. “We believe this would be a great addition to our community, have a positive economic impact, and make our community an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Fritz and DMRA board president Jeff Staley emphasized the need for local and regional support for the remaining funds.

“We are excited about the support and enthusiasm we have witnessed while working on bringing back Detroit Mountain,” Staley said. “We are confident that the money can be raised as long as supporters continue to step up and help make this dream a reality.”

To that end, tax deductible donations are encouraged over a five year period.

The success of the general campaign will support the organization’s goal of opening the area as early as winter of 2014.

The public fundraising campaign will kick off Thursday, with an event at Zorbaz in Detroit Lakes beginning at 6 p.m., followed by a presentation at 6:30 p.m.

T-Roy and the Blues Valley Band will begin at 7 p.m. Project brochures, videos, architectural renderings, and other information will be provided.

Board members and other volunteers will be available to answer questions.

“We encourage anyone with any interest at all to come see what we are about and what we’re going to do,” Hanson said.

“To imagine that we will have a first-class, four-season facility in town is pretty exciting,” he added.

“We have so many assets in this town, to not utilize one of the best bike and ski areas in probably a 200-mile radius (would be a shame),” Hanson said.

Detroit Mountain was a seasonal downhill ski resort for decades prior to closing in 2002.

The new area will not only host downhill skiing, but will offer snowboarding with terrain parks, cross country skiing, and tubing.

In the summer months, hiking and over 10 miles of purpose-built mountain bike trails will be a highlight.

“It’s going to be an incredible asset to the area,” Hanson said. “We think it’s going to be an enormous success, with the help of hundreds of people. Mark Fritz initiated this, and his enthusiasm and motivation got us this far. He’s the linchpin to this success.”

Project highlights include:

  • BHH has been selected as the project architects to design a first-class mountain lodge, using rough cut siding, reclaimed lumber, corrugated tin features, and stone.
  • Gary Nansen, P.E., will act as project coordinator. Nansen brings a wealth of knowledge and organizational skills to the table to ensure the lodge is built correctly, on time and on budget.
  • Tomlinson Construction has been contracted to build the lodge.
  • The International Mountain Biking Association and Trail Solutions have provided the initial assessment and terrain maps for biking trails.
  • Sky Trans recently visited the site to discuss lifts, timelines and pricing.
  • Minnesota Valley Irrigation had a site visit to assess snowmaking and irrigation needs.

Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by local business people, professionals and residents who saw great potential in creating a four-season resort park on the Detroit Mountain site.

Donations to the project are tax deductible and can be made through the website, or Bring Back Detroit Mountain on Facebook.

Links can also be found through Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce at and Detroit Lakes Newspapers at